Sociolinguistics Lunch: Rudolf P. Gaudio (SUNY Purchase)

NOV 07, 2014 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




November 07, 2014: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




Speaker: Rudolf P. Guodio, Purchase College, SUNY         
Title: Dem Dey Blow Foné:  Naijá pidgin and English radio styles in Nigeria
Abstract:  The audioscape of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, is dominated by English but a significant fraction of radio programming is in Nigerian Pidgin, a.k.a. Naijá. Although historically derided as ‘broken English,’ Naija/Pidgin is arguably Nigeria’s most widely understood language, surpassing the so-called ‘majority’ national languages of Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba as well as the official language, English. In addition to Wazobia FM, a station that broadcasts entirely in Naija, several other Abuja stations regularly feature one or more Pidgin programs. By privileging Naija, radio programmers seek to encourage Nigerians of all ethnic and class backgrounds to participate in public discourse with the aim of promoting national unity, democracy, and (implicitly) racial pride. These goals are complicated, however, by a number of factors, including (a) the occasional tendency of guests, callers, advertisers and even presenters to use English during Naija/Pidgin broadcasts, and (b) the pervasive use by English-language radio announcers of non-Nigerian (especially British or American) grammar and phonology, humorously known as _big grama_ and _foné_, respectively. Such practices index the ambiguous persistence of a hegemonic ideology of language and citizenship that makes participation in the postcolonial nation-state contingent on the use of ‘proper’ English, as defined by Anglo-American elite norms.